PLAAF's Logistics Department (houqin bu/konghou) was established in November 1949, and was based
on the Fourth Field Army's 6th subdepartment. It is
responsible for supply, as well as support for operations, training, and living.
The PLAAF's logistics troops (houqin bing) are organized operationally
to carry out the policies of the Logistics Department. Consequently, they are
responsible to the HqAF Logistics Department and its
subordinate offices at the MRAF, Air Corps, Command Post, and unit level. The
Field Station (chang zhan)
is the logistics organization at an aviation division/base. This section
describes how various logistics units are organized today to perform their
missions, and how the PLAAF's logistics elements performed during the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese
LOGISTICS TROOPS TODAY
AIR MATERIEL DEPOTS: Looking at how the PLAAF's logistics troops are organized today, the air materiel organization at each level manages supply depots and warehouses, and orders the supplies. Supply depots are organized on a three tier structure -first level (yiji) depots, which are located in various military regions but are subordinate to HqAF (The Lanzhou MRAF does not have any first level depots, but has second level depots at Xian, Wulumuqi, and the He-Xi corridor); second level (erji) depots are located in each military region and are subordinate to the MRAF Headquarters; and third level (sanji) depots are located at and subordinate to operational units. First level depots can either supply the second level depots or send items directly to the unit if necessary. The PLAAF's first level air materiel depots are directly subordinate to the Logistics Department Headquarters, but are functionally (yewu) responsible to the Plans Division within the Air Materiel Department.
The main task for a first level depot is to ensure the supply of air materiel to aviation units in their area of responsibility. The missions include the following:
1979 SINO-VIETNAM BORDER CONFLICT
Following the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, the
PLAAF was not prepared mentally or operationally for the 17 February to
One of the most important tasks during this period was to
prepare the airfields in Guangxi for the influx of
over 20,000 PLAAF aviation, SAM, and AAA troops. The Guangzhou MRAF's Logistics Department was responsible for organizing
the housing, materiel, transportation, and fuel support for these troops and
their equipment, as well as the helicopter rescue and transport support for
wounded soldiers at the front line. The airfields also took this opportunity to
build, repair, or acquire new equipment or facilities which they had not been
able to attain previously.
The Logistics Department's subordinate airfield and
barracks organizations had two primary missions -- to support
housing for those troops already stationed in Guangxi,
and to prepare housing, food, water, and electricity for the incoming troops.
For example, these organizations issued about 10,000 mobile beds, over 32,000
meters of water pipe, and 200 km of electric cable, built 43,000 square meters
of bamboo sheds, and repaired over 23,000 square meters of old housing.
Since the PLAAF's 7th Air Corps in Nanning
did not have prior experience in managing supply support, it worked closely
with the PLAAF's Forward Command Post, Air Divisions and Regiments, and field
stations to provide the necessary materiel. For example, some troops brought
their own materiel or had it transported directly to them from their home
bases, while materiel from other outside areas was sent directly to airfields
where troops were massed. The airfield's field station then managed the
materiel based upon orders from the Forward Command Post's logistics organization.
Because it was not possible to construct housing
immediately after the troops arrived, transportation of the necessary material
prior to the troops' arrival was a critical factor. For
example, they. used boats and vehicles to
transport mobile housing with the troops to Tianyang.
During the conflict, the Nanning Wuxu
field station dispatched over 16,500 vehicles and drove 820,000 km in order to
provide support for portions of an aviation regiment and one independent air
Based upon initial estimates of the amount of fuel
required, the PLAAF's fuel supply was totally inadequate and several depots
were almost empty. Therefore, during the preparation period, all of the
airfields' fuel depots were filled completely. This included the depot at Tianyang, which relies on water transport for its fuel
supply. Some of the airfields did not have rail spurs, so vehicles had to bring
in all the fuel. In addition, all of the combat readiness tanks available
throughout the military region and some from outside the military region were
quickly transferred to the front line airfields. These expanded the amount of
aviation kerosene by over 50 percent. By the time the conflict began, the
amount of fuel supplied to all the Guangxi airfields
was 4.3 Times the normal amount.
Supplying fuel during peacetime was difficult, but even
more difficult during wartime. Furthermore, because some airfields, such as Ningming, are close to the border, their fuel storage is only partially
underground, and the rail line supplying the bases are busy, the enemy could
destroy or disrupt fuel supplies. Because of this situation, the PLAAF used
about 45 days to build over 50 kilometers of semi-permanent fuel pipes to
three different airfields.
During the conflict, there was no air war, so the PLAAF
restricted its missions to fighter reconnaissance and early warning missions
along the border, helicopter rescue missions to pickup wounded soldiers, and
air transport missions. In addition, the PLAAF did not use any ground attack
aircraft or bombers. As a result, only about one-fourth of the fuel estimated for combat was used, and the
difficulties. with fuel were fewer than expected.
However, several urgent problems were revealed:
-The fuel depot capacity at PLAAF airfields was too
little. There was no way to support several types of aircraft or the sustained
combat use of fuel for several batches of aircraft.
-The structure and system of the fuel organizations were inadequate to support the fuel needs.
During preparations for the conflict,.the 7th Air Corps Logistics Department's Health Division established a helicopter medical rescue plan. After receiving approval from the Guangzhou MRAF Forward Command Post, an Air Transport Rescue Group (kongyun jiuhu zu) was organized under the unified leadership of the 7th Air Corps. This team consisted of medical teams from the Wuxu, Ningming, and Tianyang field stations, of Army field hospitals, and of the 19th AAA Division's Health Office.
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